Stiber's victory comes nearly 13 months after he was stopped by a Westport police officer who claimed to have seen the 45-year-old boy using his cell phone on the morning of April 11, 2018. Stiber, representing himself in court, lost the case last year but refused to give up – saying The Washington Post on Friday he distributed a "significant" amount of money to hire Thygerson to prove he was not on the phone.
His willingness to take legal fees – which exceeded the cost of admission – was a matter of principle, he added.
"Distracted driving violations are recorded and they never go away," Stiber said in an interview. "In addition, many people do not realize that their insurance rates increase."
In February, Westport police cable, Shawn Wong Won, testified that "clearly" saw Stiber talking on a black cell phone while driving that morning. Wong Won said in court that he saw Stiber holding a lighted object the size of a cell phone on his face as he moved his lips.
Thygerson countered this claim by explaining that the movement of Stiber's lips was "consistent with the chewing" of the brown hash he had requested at McDonald's moments before. Telephone records show that Stiber was not having a conversation at the time he was stopped, Thygerson said. Your customer's car also has Bluetooth capabilities that allow it to speak without holding the phone.
To bolster his defense, Stiber said he made a request for Freedom of Information to obtain records showing that Wong Won was on the 15th hour of a double shift of 16 hours when he pulled Stiber; offering another reason why the policeman may have mistaken the potato chips with a cell phone.
Finally, the judge concluded on Friday that the state failed to meet the burden of proof, citing lack of evidence that Stiber was on his phone at the time he was stopped. The post reviewed a copy of the ruling, in which the court cited a court case involving another Connecticut driver who was found innocent in 2016 after being stopped for using his telephone.
"It's just proof that cops – there's nothing evil here – but the cops are human and they make mistakes, that's all," Thygerson said.
Westport Police did not immediately return a request for comment Friday night.
Stiber is relieved by the verdict, but said the time he spent defending himself is a major problem in the judiciary. He had to go through two tests, lose four days of work and pay a lawyer to get the right result – careful steps he says others should not be forced to take.
"That's why I did it because I do not want anyone else to go through it," he said. "Other people have no means to defend themselves in the same way."
It remains to be seen whether the Stiber case will set new precedents in future cases. He acknowledged, however, that his troubles made him think twice before eating French fries.
"I definitely did not eat as many as before, but I still go to McDonald's for other things," he said. "It's been a long ordeal, but I'd rather avoid problems in the future."